Tag Archives: modern life

Why Bother Blogging? (Part 1)

I’ve just had a message from WordPress thanking me for renewing and saying “so your site has all its great tools and features for another year”. This is ironic, to say the least, when you consider I’m having to use a version which seems to have been developed by James Watt and has, as a result of WordPress “improvements” noticeably fewer great tools and features than it did this time last week.  Having said that, James Watt would probably have made a better job of it.

They then add “Until then, have fun with your site!”. Fun? I had so much fun last week that I nearly cancelled my subscription and gave up blogging. It would have been more fun to insert broken glass into my nostrils.

One thing I’ve noticed on the plug-in Classic Editor is that when I have comments waiting I rarely get a red spot on the bell icon. If it was always absent, I could understand it, but to have it appear once in every ten times I look seems peculiar.

Same goes for my replies. It no longer tells me I have replied. Before I realised this I actually replied twice to something Derrick had said. It was bad enough looking like I am losing my marbles, but he now has the moral high ground in the question of which of us is blogging with fewer marbles. Having said that, his post today, with photographs from his Assistant Photographer, Head Gardener, Driver and Wife (that’s one hard-working multi-tasking person rather than an entourage) indicate that she’s planning an early claim on his life insurance as he plummets to his death whilst photographing storms from cliff tops. That sort of peril just to get a few photographs for a blog is beyond the call of duty.

Summer View Nottinghamshire

Anyway, enough of my adventures with WordPress, it’s time to write a thoughtful examination of my blogging career so far. That’s what I call it anyway. Others may consider it a series of disjointed rants about things I can’t change and things that don’t matter. That is probably fair, but it wasn’t meant to be like that.

Six years ago I dreamed of writing things that mattered and would change the world to be a better place. I wanted to crusade, to be revered as a master of witty and elegant prose and, some months after starting, to be offered jobs writing columns for top London papers. I thought “months” was realistic, whereas “weeks” would have been an impractical daydream. It has proved to be so – seventy months, to be accurate and the London Editors are playing hard to get.

When the call came, I told Julia, despite my probable membership of the Groucho Club, I would try to remain the ordinary, grounded sort of person I had always been. The cocaine fuelled binges, the women, the wads of cash and the free holidays on the yachts of Russian oligarchs, would not change me. So far, I can say that this has been the case. I am unchanged from the idealistic youth of fifty-something that set off to be a famous blogger, with my dignity and integrity in tact. Actually that may not be true. My integrity is still in tact but having written more than once on the subject of the National Health Service inserting a camera into my bladder in a very undignified manner, I feel my dignity may have suffered.

One of several ex-windmills in the area

So that, at least has gone, mainly, to plan.

As for the rest, I rattle on about trivia in a style that relies heavily on a spellchecker, and has only a nodding acquaintance with good writing practice (too many commas and Too Many capitals, for a start) and no longer expect an email from the Editor of The Times.

Looking on the bright side, at least I have not had to employ an accountant to sort out my tax affairs.

Having just checked the membership details for the Groucho Club so I could add a link, it seems unlikely I’d be able to join anyway, and, as several of you are probably thinking, would I want to join a club that would have me as a member?

I think I should end Part 1 here, as it has gone on long enough and I have to cook tea.

Having disposed of the show-biz element of blogging, with the orgies and the oligarchs, I will continue tomorrow with further discussion of the rewards of sitting down at the dining room table and bashing away on a computer that can, like me, no longer cope with the demands of modern life.

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

Instant Ink. Or Not.

We are having trouble with the printer at work. It has stopped printing properly, and we didn’t originally notice until it had mis-printed ten sheets. This is an annoying waste. Yes, I can use the paper as scrap note paper, but we use the so-called “Instant Ink” service from the printer company and this is ten sheets towards our monthly target, even though they are useless.

In theory, the system is good, and cheap, but in practice it doesn’t seem to work quite as efficiently as it should. And when we end up with a faulty cartridge we can’t print and we are having to get by with no buying slips and a limited number of compliments slips for parcels. We can get round the former problem by writing things in a notebook, but it doesn’t look professional. We can get round the latter with business cards, but again, it isn’t quite so good, as they don’t deliver the same sales message.

The worst thing is that if we get an eBay order which uses Cyrillic or Chinese script, as they often do, we can’t print an address label out, and we certainly can’t hand write them. I’m hoping we will have the new cartridge by Monday, but can’t help thinking that under the old system (a spare cartridge in the drawer) we would already be back in action.

They call it “Instant Ink”, but we reported it yesterday, so surely we should have our new cartridge today? It was, after all, their faulty cartridge that has caused the problem, and many companies seem to be able to deliver in less than a day, even when they don’t call themselves “Instant”.

Ah well, just one more gripe about modern life.

The strange thing is that the more I look at it, the more efficient and economic it appears. I might actually have found something about modern life I approve of, which is not usual.

Today’s photo is one I took ages ago at Springfield’s when I was waiting for Julia and messing about with the camera. It’s a pattern of paving stones taken using the day-glo pink effect known as “Punk”. Presumably because it was an effect used on Punk posters. Though it might be a mis-print for “Pink”.

Sunset

I have frittered my night away and now have seven minutes to keep my new plan (two posts a day for a fortnight) on track.

It was light this evening. At 4.00 it was still almost daylight where it had been srak at tat time only a few weeks ago. This state persisted until I finished my shopping at 4.45 and walked out into a beautiful evening. The day had gone by that time but the sky was still bright with the remains of a sparkling winter day.

There was enough pink in the sky to bring the clouds to life, and depending on which way I was facing, or how high I was, wisps of cloud streaked the sky, or gathered in hollows to bathe the city buildings in a pink halo.

I eventually got home and was able to take more photos. My camera did its best to average out the colour, because that is what it is set up to do by the scientists who designed it. But it couldn’t completely remove the beauty.

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Another attempt

I tried some of the special settings – moonlight, sunset, pop art, but they have  atendency to alter rather than accentuate. The moonlight setting removed even more colour, the sunset a setting didn’t seem to make any difference and the pop art setting tended towards the garish end of things. I had thought of using the expression “gilding the lily” but the overall effect was like being hit in the face with a high-vis jacket. whilst standing under floodlights.but they mainly make things look garish

This is some sort of lesson in the use of modern technology to remove all that is good from our lives. Or add much that is tawdry.

Call me old-fashioned, or even a Luddite, but the modern taste seems to be for change rather than improvement.

Looks like I’ve missed the target, but I’d rather develop my theme than cut it short for the sake of meeting a self-imposed deadline. I will add some photographs now and post about 20 minutes late. Twenty minutes, in my flexible world, is not worth worrying about. Or even 30…

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Garish & tawdry. The fact that it is blurred is the least of this picture’s worries… 

 

Early One Morning (Just as the Sun was Rising)

It’s Sunday and, as usual, I’m up far too early.

The students are back in town and at 6am some of them were still making their way home. I don’t really notice them most of the time, they are just background clutter in my life, but this year I’ve noticed them more. It’s probably another stage in my decline towards senility.

At this point, in search of a wider vocabulary, I looked up leitmotif as it seemed a good word to use. Ten minutes later I found myself better informed, more confused and less likely ever to use the word.

My age-related confusion is, I think, destined to remain a theme. It’s easier to spell and doesn’t involve Wagner. However, I’m glad I thought of it, as I found the word leitwort. Any day that includes a new word is a good day, but not all good words are words that I will use. If I ever become Oxford Professor of Poetry I might slip it in, but apart from that I can’t see I’ll ever use it again.

Anyway, enough about that.

Today’s subject is sunrise. There was a nice one today, and I didn’t have my camera.

Taking the long way home from dropping Julia off I drove along the high ground to the north of Nottingham and looked down as the ground fell away.

In the darkness of the vally, amongst the mist, a few lights sparkled.

Above that, in the lower part of the sky, a narrow band of salmon pink formed a slightly understated sunrise. The sky above that moved from grey to blue and cloud formations were picked out in pink.

It sounds fairly bland when I describe it, but that’s the fault of the prose, not the sunrise. It was an exquisite moment that reminded me of so many things.

I thought of using my mobile phone to take a photograph but my phone camera is specially designed to remove the colour and beauty from any scene. (It truly is a product of the modern world).

That seemed a good subject for my Sunday morning post, so I came home and started writing.

 

Warning: Rant Ahead!

I’ve just had a bacon sandwich and caught up on some Derrick J Knight blog posts. I am now drinking tea whilst watching TV. All was well in the world until an article on dog grooming came on.

A woman in yellow nail varnish and dyed blonde hair is holding forth on the subject of pampered dogs.

Children are starving in Africa, being abused in the UK and separated from their parents in the USA. And people are spending £500 a month on dog grooming.

I recognise that I’m often out of step with modern life, and the antithesis of “well-groomed”, but am I alone in thinking that things have gone mad.

Now, I’m not going to suggest that people shouldn’t be able to spend their money how they want (though I’m not allowed to buy a machine gun or a slave, now I come to think about it). However, how about taxing dog groomers and making people buy a license to own an offensively groomed dog?

Time for work now, so I’ll leave it here.

What do you think?

Things I Thought (But didn’t Write)

I always have more thoughts than I write about, and always seem to have more photographs than I can use too.

Here’s an opener – have you done Rachel McAlpine’s Older Blogger’s Survey? Obviously, many of my readers won’t be old enough to take it, and some of you are perpetually youthful, but one or two of you might find it useful. I found it interesting to get some of my thoughts in line.

Some of the other thoughts I’ve had are uncharitable ones about the idiot who taped my driving license to the court paperwork before sending it back. With finding a cloth and solvent it took me ten minutes to get it cleaned off.

Gloster Meteor stamp

Gloster Meteor stamp

I also wonder who thought it would be a good idea to design a car park where the exit doesn’t take coins, but insists on card payments in a badly lit machine that’s set at the wrong height. It might be OK for owls and midgets but it’s not good for me.

Then there’s the thoughts about British Telecom. We’ve been having a steadily worsening service, so Julia rang them on Saturday to sort things out. It took several hours and a number of false starts. They’ve been charging us too much and providing a shoddy service, neither of which they were prepared to correct. We still won’t be getting a refund but they are going to send us one of the latest routers (we have a Mark 2 and they are currently on Mark 6). They did offer to check the wiring in the house (and charge around £10) and charge us for a new router but Julia, growing ever shorter in temper as a result of her lack of sleep, managed to work a free router out of them. Of course, we haven’t got it yet, so we’ll see what happens.

A stream near Lound in Lincolnshire

A stream near Lound in Lincolnshire

Another thought that comes back to me from time to time is wondering if I’m in a hospital ward somewhere and all the WordPress comments on my blog are just voices in my head.

It could be, you never know. When I was younger I used to wonder if everyone saw the “blue” sky in the same way. What if they were seeing the colour I called “green”? Or even “orange”?

I’ve been dealing with several auctioneers recently – one of them won’t send items I buy with my debit card to any other address than the billing address. Three other auctioneers can do it, Paypal can do it, Amazon can do it, but this one particular auction house, it seems, can’t do it. To add insult to injury, the address I want to  use is one where they already send things.

Life can be very complicated in these days of electronic payments when everyone is scared of fraud. They will send it wherever I ask if I pay by bank transfer, but why should I give my bank details out?

That could easily develop into a rant, so I’ll change subjects now.

2013 £2 coin in presentation pack - commemoration

2013 £2 coin in presentation pack

The 2013 £2 is the first time a UK coin has ever commemorated another coin – in this case the Guinea of 1663. The Guinea is a very interesting coin. I won’t venture an opinion on the £2 as we just sold one of these packs on eBay.

 

I’ll finish up by dotting the post with some random unused photographs, which links us back to the first paragraph.

Thinking about it, there are a few first world problems here. I have just had a letter from Mary’s Meals and it might be a good idea to send them a few quid.

 

Auctioneers, Bureaucracy and Modern Life

I’m gearing up for some serious collecting, and part of his involves getting ready to bid at auction.

Last week I registered with one I’ve never dealt with before, sent in a couple of bids and am now waiting to see if I’ve been successful. If I am the winning bidder I will pay by debit card and they will send me the goods. It’s old-fashioned. It’s simple. And it’s easy to stay calm during the process, apart from a low level of excitement about the hunt.

This week I sent off a so-called registration form for another auction. I’ve dealt with them before so I listed them as a reference. I also listed one of their trade customers as a reference. You’d have thought that would be sufficient, but it seems not. That’s why I’m in low-level rant mode.

To safeguard them from fraud, and because they say I’m a new customer, I have to provide a copy of my photo ID.

That’s a National ID card (which I don’t have), a passport (which I don’t have) or a photo driving licence. Now, I do have one of those, though in theory there’s no reason why I should have one. Julia still has her green non-photo licence, and somewhere in a drawer, so do I. We moved here 30 years ago when they were the only licences available and we’ve had no legal reason to change them.

I had to change mine simply because it’s impossible to live without photo ID these days. I even needed photo ID to prove my mother’s will.

No, I don’t know why either.

We’ve dealt with the same solicitor for years, they have had, and used, my home address for years, and they have met me face to face. Suddenly we can’t do anything without me showing photo ID.

Anyway, back to auctions. I’m not a new customer. I’ve told them I’m not a new customer. I provided a reference, and I won’t be able to defraud them because they won’t part with the goods until they have payment and…

Somehow I can’t do anything without providing photo ID.

I can’t help feeling that it’s just another example of the stupidity of modern life. My photo ID doesn’t reduce the chance of fraud to the auctioneer. But it does make life more annoying for me, and, by having a photo of my driving licence floating around, it does increase my risk of being the victim of fraud.

I know this because when Cotton Traders had their system hacked we had several attempts at fraudulent transactions made on our cards.

 

 

Fast forward to Thursday and Stupidity

After the delay in posting Tuesdays events I’m going to give a quick overview of Wednesday and then plunge into Thursday – a much more interesting day.

Chickens, eggs, butterfly count (which included green-veined whites), Canadian visitor, made a get well soon card, a volunteer called to see if they could help us with anything (as if!), a discussion on seeing tigers in Indian National Parks, a meeting (which I avoided), another meeting (which I didn’t) and a feeling that things could be better.

Move on to Thursday and I managed to take a poor picture of an immature Green Woodpecker through a dirty windscreen. We’ve seen a few flying and heard many more but this was my first chance to get a photo. Still, it was better than the one of the Green-veined White butterfly I took on my phone yesterday.

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I then checked the office emails and found a gem from a local college.

To put it in perspective, we have them out on the farm for six days in a year. We charge £5 each (which we were told was all they could afford) so we take about £50 – £60 a day. If you cost it up strictly it takes about 16- 20 man hours to plan and deliver the visits, and we have to pay the farm rent for using  the facilities.

The college sent us a letter once, telling us it could send lecturers out if we needed any help delivering education and they would only cost us £70 an hour. Yes, they would charge us more for an hour than they are prepared to pay us for a day.

I didn’t read the payment terms because I was spluttering too much, but I can tell you their terms. They pay at the end of the month following the month in which the service was delivered. We had a visit from them in the first week of June and we got paid last week. And they wonder why small businesses have trouble.

Today we had a 300 word email which contained this gem of a paragraph.

As a part of our due diligence process we audit our suppliers on a regular basis and will only work with organisations who also commit to the eradication of slavery and human trafficking.  Our procurement appraisal process will incorporate a review of the controls undertaken by our suppliers and now also requires, from all suppliers, an annual statement of their commitment and actions taken to eliminate modern slavery.

I’m happy to eradicate modern slavery, but is this really going to help?

I will say no more.

 

 

The madness goes on

I’m just taking a break from filling out an Equality and Diversity Pre-Qualification Questionnaire.

As you can guess, it’s the sort of thing that is dear to my heart and always at the front of my mind. At the breakfast table this morning we spoke of little else…

Well, that might be an exaggeration. In fact the only true part of the paragraph above might be that I ate breakfast, and that wasn’t at a table.

Why, you ask, am I filling out etc…

Well, you may remember the old days, when you did a job and got paid for it. Things have moved on since then, you now have to fill in forms, have purchase numbers, wait the best part of two months and have an Equality and Diversity Policy.

They call this progress.